In my previous post about speed, I mentioned I am not as fast as I once was. This post may seem contradictory in that, in many ways, I am faster than I have ever been. Despite limitations related to the aging process, experience in doing what I do has made me highly efficient, not to mention highly accurate, in performing my job, as well as in many other aspects of my life. For example, I have conducted thousands of mock trials; I have selected hundreds of juries (actual juries, not mock juries); I have given hundreds of presentations; and I have consulted with hundreds of attorneys. Experience pays! And pays dividends in the form of time savings. Things that used to take me a lot of time, at the early stages of my career, are now performed expeditiously. As long as I continue to pay attention to the details of every case, I expect to derive the benefits of experience with every case on which I consult. In my personal life, my years as a musician have had a cumulative effect on my learning new songs. My bass guitar teacher remarks frequently that, a year or two ago, I would never have mastered John Paul Jones’ bass lines on a Led Zeppelin song with such alacrity! A compliment, indeed! There has been some recent social psychological research that dispels the commonly held belief that older people do not learn new information as quickly as younger people. It seems that older people learn new information differently than younger people by using more efficient learning strategies. Think about it: If one has performed a task many times, it is easier to perform it next time, and easier still, the time after that. Therefore, the fact that I can do something I have done many times before faster than someone who is a novice is unsurprising; it is the result of experience.
Now this is more like what I’d expect to hear from Melissa. As we’ve noted before, we each write our posts based on a topic list which we create individually. This means neither of us know what the other has up a sleeve until we read a post the other has written. So, though I’m sure Melissa can’t necessary outrun her elementary school chums (if they can still run at all) or her nephews, she does move pretty fast. When we go out for walks through the neighborhood, she out paces me and even though my stride is longer, she easily gets ahead me. And, that is true whether she’s reading documents or getting deep into the details of a case, something she also attributes to her speed reading skills. Some of these posts require me to do a little simple research into what scientific research is showing on the topics. Thus, the link to studies on wisdom I alluded to in the prior post. But, further, the study by a social psychologist (Richard Nisbett of the University of Michigan) that found wisdom and being able to see the points of view of each side of a dispute are traits associated with maturity. Other variables included older people’s ability to recognize the limits of their own knowledge and to seek compromise to find solutions to conflicts. This is but one study that supports Melissa’s idea of being faster than she once was due to her cumulative experiences. Some of the research shows older people being more conservative in making decisions, and taking some time to make a decision which turns out to be more accurate than younger people who are quick to make a decision, even if it is wrong. Sound familiar? Almost common sense, except researchers are confirming these things. In any event, it is clear to Melissa and me that we both benefit from the experiences we’ve had running our business (or businesses for me, counting my photography days) and in working with great clients – trial attorneys. It is rare nowadays that we get a new type of case we haven’t handled previously but there are a few now and then that are new or at least involve new twists. And, we can often relate to the new issues by reflecting on prior cases anyway – again, the benefit of efficiencies created by experience.